The Role of Advertising, Publicity and Public Relations in Business


By: Site Engineer, Staff

full bio

Publicity is any information about a company, its personnel, or its products that appear in any medium on a non-paid basis. Sometimes the best advertising is free.

Companies seek favorable publicity to create interest in their products. A short article on a page of a newspaper may generate far more sales than pages of paid advertising.

Publicity may be negative as well as positive. Many a company has seen its sales and stock price tumble following media reports of product defects, unsafe work practices, or pollution problems.

Good publicity, on the other hand, can be invaluable.

The companies with a good public image have a big edge over less respected companies. Consumers are more than twice as likely to buy new products from companies they admire. Investors are willing to invest 50 percent more in “good” companies that “bad” ones. Highly regarded companies have some advantage in attracting talented employees, and their chances are much better of winning community support for new plant and construction.

In most companies, the publicity job involves creating “news” that will support the organization’s marketing efforts and further its image with the public and investors. In large organizations, a public relations department develops news releases about products, people, and activities. For example, if the company’s General Manager gives a speech to a group of securities analysts, the public relations department sends a press release to the newspaper describing the event.

Press releases are also prepared to announce new products, employee promotions, and the organization’s civic activities. Taken together, those factional stories about the company produce an image and help make people aware of the organization.

Publicity Tools Used by Organizations

Organizations have many publicity tools that can be used for effective public relations.

These include written materials, public service activities, news, and events.

  • Written Materials: Such written materials like annual reports, magazines, company newsletters, and brochures could be used by firms to reach and influence their target audience. For example, organizations normally use brochures to inform their target audience about the existence of a product, what the product is, how it works and how it is assembled.
  • Public Service Activities: Entrepreneurs can improve the public image and goodwill of their organizations by contributing money and other social responsibility issues that will help develop the community. Such social responsibilities include; environmental sanitation, the building of hospitals and schools, gifts to orphanages, old people’s homes and handicapped children’s homes.
  • News: Often favorable news about the organization and its products or people are created by the public relations department. The public relations officer should be friendly to the media houses around so that they can always accept his news. Such news must always be interesting, well written, timely and above all attractively catchy.
  • Events: Special events always organized by organizations to help draw attention to their products, old or new. Such events include exhibitions, anniversaries, conferences and seminars, which will reach the target audience.


The American Marketing Association (1985) defines advertising as any form of non-personal presentation of goods, services or ideas for action, openly paid for, by an identified sponsor.

Practitioners are often confused about the differences between advertising and publicity and advertising and personal selling. The above definition, if examined in detail, will bring out the salient points of difference.

The advertising must be done in any form of non-personal presentation like in magazines, newspapers, radio, television, skywriting, billboards, posters, etc. The sponsors of the adverts must be identified and must acknowledge that they have paid for the use of the media in which it appears. Otherwise, the message is considered to be publicity. Publicity is not openly paid for, and the sponsor is not usually identified.

Objectives of Advertising

The primary objective of advertising is to help increase sales. However, a company’s specific objectives of advertising may include one or a combination of the followings:

  • To maintain brand loyalty;
  • To build a positive business image;
  • To obtain dealer support;
  • To secure leads for and lend assistance to salespeople;
  • To increase the number of units of the product purchased;
  • To introduce new products;
  • To remind consumers about a product and reinforce promotional message;
  • To counteract competition from competitors;
  • To increase the number of product users; and
  • To increase sales in an off-season.

Advantages of Advertising

Advertising has many faults, but it has its advantages also. Advertising has the following overall effects on a nation’s economy.

  1. Contributes to the maintenance of a high-quality standard by making the public aware of the identity of the manufacturer.
  2. It provides information about old and new products.
  3. Contributes to economic growth and expands job opportunities.
  4. Creates mass markets that encourage economies of scale in production.
  5. Makes possible free radio and television entertainment and lowers the prices of newspaper distribution costs by pre-selling goods.
  6. It makes consumers identify a business with a particular product.
  7. It is drawing power on target retention.

The Advertising Plan

The following questions must be considered by the entrepreneur before an advertising campaign begins:

  • What creative theme or appeal should be used?
  • Which medium is best for delivering the message?
  • What objectives does the company want to achieve with its advertising?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • How much can the company afford to spend on advertising this product?

Also, the entrepreneur should equally take into consideration some elements that will make whatever chosen advert, medium informative and appealing thus:

  • A good advert must be simply making the message easily understood by the target audience.
  • A good advert must provide an essential answer to the consumers as to who is proving what, when, where, how and why.
  • A good advert, above all, must be truthful, factual and honest.
  • A good advert must be informative, pointing out an area of value to the consumers.
  • A good advert must be enthusiastic showing optimism in the goods and services offered.

Types of Advertising Media

The types of advertising media available are brought to glare here to expose the entrepreneur to such varieties to be in a good position to choose the right media to use in advertising his products.

This will equally help the entrepreneur to establish his advertising goals and budget. This information will equally help him to choose his advertising agency.

Some of these advertising media available to the entrepreneur to choose are:

(a)        Print Media

Newspapers and magazines are known as print media.

More is spent on advertising in the newspapers every year than on any other single medium. The newspaper is a universal medium. Rich and poor, old and young, men and women read the newspaper. Because of the wide variety of interests of the readers, the newspaper is best adopted in advertising goods and services that are in more or less general use.

There are two distinct divisions of newspaper advertising:

  • Display advertising, and
  • Classified advertising.

Display advertising is the advertising which is scattered throughout the pages of the newspaper and normally contains at least one illustration.

Classified advertising, on the other hand, is that advertising is grouped in certain sections of the paper under such headings as “Help I Wanted,” “House for Rent,” “Cars for Sale.” These advertisements are a convenience to the reader and saving to the advertiser. Magazine advertising is always attractive to industrial advertisers because it offers access to more specialized markets than any other vehicle except direct mail.

For advertising purposes, magazines are classified as:

  • Business
  • Professional publications
  • Consumer
  • Farm

The business magazines carry the news needed by management in the field for which they are published. Professional magazines are those publications that appeal to certain special occupational or industrial groups.

These are the magazines for:

  • Engineers,
  • Teachers,
  • Doctors,
  • Marketers,
  • Hoteliers, and
  • Lawyers.

The consumer magazine contains articles of interest to most people. Some articles are on a more or less technical subject but are written in a popular style. Farm magazines are designed to supply information to the agricultural community.

Advantages of Print Media

There are many advantages of print media, which include:

  • The success of advertising maybe assessed through returned coupons.
  • They have a comparatively long life as newspapers and magazines can be kept for a long time.
  • They are flexible, timely and can be repeated.
  • There is a high degree of credibility attributed to the written adverts.
  • Readers read the advert’s message at their own pace and equally make references to them.
  • Specific target audiences are reached through special newspapers or periodicals.


There are some disadvantages of print media:

  • At the time the poor quality of production spoils the adverts.
  • Readers often miss seeing some adverts because of a large number of advertisements.
  • There is inflexibility of content hence accepted for insertion.

(b)       Transportation Media

Transportation media consists of cards and posters which are displayed on and in these public vehicles.

The transportation media are:

  • Car Cards: Displayed inside buses
  • Trains Signs: Displayed on the outside surface of cars and buses
  • Railway Stations Posters: Displayed at railway stations
  • Airline Stations Posters: Displayed at the airports

Transportation advertising is an important form of advertising that reaches many people daily across the nation.

(c)        Point-of-Purchase Media

Point-of-purchase media consists of those cards and posters, which are placed in or near the retail store to remind the customer to buy a specific product. Many manufacturers provide retailers with point-of-purchase advertising materials.

They provide the retailers with cabinets and other equipment for the display of the merchandise. They furnish counter cards, window backgrounds, dummy window displays, price cards, samples and many other items designed to aid in the sale of the merchandise.

(d)       Direct Mail

Direct mails are those media of direct advertising that are sent through the mails. More money is spent on direct mail advertising than any other medium except newspapers and television. Entrepreneurs use direct mail advertising to reach prospective buyers on an individual basis.

Examples of direct mail media include: sales letters, announcements, enclosures, blotters, booklets, catalogues, price lists, calendars, and handbills.

The entrepreneur can compile the list of his target audience through the business records or telephone and city residence directories.

Advantages of Direct Mail

The advantages of Direct mail are:

  • The possibility of flexibility
  • The advantage of timeliness
  • The novel idea can be tried on selected clients.
  • There is a chance to use a more personnel approach and appeal.

Like most other media, however, direct mail has the disadvantage of competition with a large amount of other advertising.

(e)        Outdoor Advertising

Outdoor advertising consists of signs and posters, which are placed outside along highways or other areas of heavy traffic. Outdoor media such as billboards and posters and signs serve principally to remind customers of products that are already well-known or to direct them to a specific location where certain products or services are available.

It has the advantages of being too brief, at times, not read easily by consumers in the moving vehicles, and always crowds the city, destroying natural environmental beauty and creating driving hazards.

(f)        Broadcast Media

Radio and television are known as Broadcast Media. This means that they use the airwaves to transmit their messages. They both use sound as a means of communication, and they are both organized into the same types of networks.

Radio advertising has some special features such as its flexibility and timelines, its ability to appeal to any specialized target markets, its ability to be heard while working, driving and walking, or engaging in other activities.

On the other hand, television has some special features too such as the ability to combine sound, sight, movement and color and a valuable medium for products that need demonstrating or that require considerable persuasion to complete the sale.

Advantages of Broadcast Media

They have several advantages in common:

  • One commercial is delivered at a time thereby isolating it from other competitor’s messages.
  • The human voice in advertising communication, personalized the advertising message.
  • Some target audiences can be reached through selective sponsorship e.g., spot programs.


  • Television advertising is always costly.
  • Television commercials may also take longer to prepare their ads for other media.
  • Television ads are less flexible and timely.

Payment for Agency Services

Currently, advertising agencies charge a fee in addition to the commission, unlike in the past when they used to charge only 15% commissions from the media in which advertisements are placed. Therefore, entrepreneurs are advised to always select an advertising agency with a proven track record, experience, good reputation, and other competent ratings.


Don’t forget to share this post!

Whatsapp Share Icon